Once we are walking in the light, a new commandment and responsibility are given to us. From the beginning God gave us a commandment that we should love God and love our brothers. John tells us that if we hate our brother we are still in darkness, and that we are walking in the darkness (I John 2:9-11). But now that we are abiding and walking in the light of Jesus, a new commandment of love is given to us. This new kind of love is much deeper and demands much more from us—it is not a love that simply demands that we love one another, but takes us to a deeper level of commitment to one another. Once we are truly walking in the light of Jesus, we can do no less.
John further explains this new commandment of love that we are to follow, in I John 4:7-11. In these verses, John explains to us that love is from God, and that this deep love was shown to us when God sent His son into our dark world, and gave him to be a sacrifice for our sins. We did not deserve his sacrifice, and will never deserve it, yet God loved us so much that He was willing to freely give His son and allowed Jesus to die for us. John concludes his thoughts with this statement: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4: 11). What John is telling us here, is that we are to go way beyond simply loving everyone. He was not talking about a nice warm feeling for others, or a desire we might have for others to experience happiness. What he was talking about is the willingness to allow that love to be a sacrificial love for others. It is the kind of love that is given even when people do not seem to deserve our love.
With the crucifixion very near, Jesus spoke to his disciples. He explained many things to his friends as they ate that last supper together. One of those things was a new commandment that he gave to them. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” John 13:34. It would only be a few hours until they would begin to understand the extent of his love for them and what he was meaning when He spoke these words to them. A little while later he again spoke about this new commandment, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” John 15:12-14.
Putting our brothers first, above ourselves; putting the needs of our brothers before our own needs or wants—these are ways to express the love that John talked about and the way that Jesus said we should love one another. And as we walk in love we are an example to the world.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.